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Asset Store with Subscriptions

Discussion in 'Assets and Asset Store' started by Cromfeli, Jan 4, 2017.

  1. Cromfeli

    Cromfeli

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    Unity has done some great advancements on making sure that building apps with Unity can be done with long term planning ( e.g. https://blogs.unity3d.com/2016/12/22/unity-sustained-engineering-release-plan/ ).

    Now there is a big issue when it comes to asset store: Long term sustainability on plugin dependencies. This is specifically acute for good assets that have been already around for a while and have saturated their market. Yet the userbase expects updates and compatibility fixes, yet the asset developers do not have any business motivation to do so.

    Can we have asset store, much like unity itself, offer subscriptions for updates?

    I would really like to make sure 3rd party developers who make good assets to be able to sustain their work over long periods of time. it would also give my products more sustainable future as I do not need to constantly worry if specific asset suddenly disappear from the asset store or stop receiving updates.

    This naturally needs some business model changes for asset store. But as Unity itself could not sustain pure license model and had to go for subscriptions, I think it would be very much beneficial for the Unity community if this was possible for assets and their dependency for long term product development.

    How about something like purchase price and renewal once per year to have updates?
     
  2. Carve_Online

    Carve_Online

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    Yeah, this is one of the bigger issues with the asset store right now. I´ve heard of more than a few cases where people are forced to use old versions of Unity just because they are dependent on asset store stuff that is totally broken in newer versions of Unity. So you either undo all your work with the pack, or you live without new features of Unity..

    I personally do not buy certain assets just because there is this deep feeling in my gut that at any moment Unity could do an update that breaks that pack.

    I am not sure a subscription model is appropriate though. I think it is already priced into the buy package that the creator is active and involved with keeping the project updated. I see threads in here all the time of those type of creators. Plus most of the stuff is so cheap that how would you even price a subscription model. I buy something for $20 or I pay a $1 a month? What a nightmare keeping track of licensing and if you can use that product if you aren´t currently subbed?

    I am just not sure I could name an asset where a sub would make sense. Most of the really popular packs have a higher price because the creator has already shown they update when there are problems. Would I pay a sub for 12 months and have the creator not have any issues and not have to fix anything?

    We just have to do due diligence when paying for packs and if it seems like something that might break because of a Unity update, make sure that creator has a history of fixing stuff.
     
    Cromfeli likes this.
  3. neoshaman

    neoshaman

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    Nothing to add, subscribing to see if the thread evolve
     
  4. Tiny-Tree

    Tiny-Tree

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    didnt they added upgrade system for that reason?
     
  5. Carve_Online

    Carve_Online

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    I thought about it some more. If they added a subscription model, that means the developers will have to make less upfront money and hope that Unity breaks something to justify their subscription fee. I also think it would create a licensing nightmare. What happens if I subscribe for one month, get the product cancel my subscription and then a month later Unity breaks it but I can fix it myself? (which is usually the case). Or would there be forced subscriptions like 12 months? What happens if Unity breaks it in my 11th month and the developer doesn´t fix it until after my sub expires. You are creating a lot of headaches for the people who manage the asset store without really showing any instances of a pack that would be better as a subscription.

    The only packs I think they make sense for are packs that shouldn´t be on the asset store to begin with like the ´make a MMORPG´ kits that have 1/20 of the features that they advertise and then ´promise´ to add them over the coming years. I followed one that literally launched with almost none of it´s advertised features, charged like $100 and 3 years later still doesn´t have anywhere near the features they promised 3 years ago... but now you can buy the ´pro´ version of the same kit which has the same features as the cheaper version, but promises even more.

    The asset store lists the changelog for each product on the product page, you can easily see which products keep up with the newer versions of Unity and that should be factored into the price you are willing to pay. If a product hasn´t had an update in two years and has no comments about it being broken, then you have to make a judgement call.. but for me, stuff like the LOD system I bought, the changelog history shows a clear history of updating the product after every major Unity update, so I was confident in purchasing it at a higher price than it´s competition.

    Just back at the OP, can you show an example pack where you think a subscription would be better than just a buy?
     
    StevenPicard likes this.
  6. Cromfeli

    Cromfeli

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    There are few examples that have already vanished atleast partially due to no sustainable recurring revenue for the author: https://www.assetstore.unity3d.com/en/#!/content/29883 and more detaile answer from author https://forum.unity3d.com/threads/r...0-now-with-damage.310487/page-10#post-2683432

    What I see is balance that is needed between constant hunt for new buyer and accumulating sufficient customer base that can support long term development. Burst of new customers that buy a great asset is good for immediate monetary reward, but sooner than later the importance gradually shifts towards recurring revenue and its importance. Same phenomena we saw with Microsoft Office and any OS and other product that was purely license based. Developers had to try push new S*** in the products just to re-sell the old thing. Modern world is very heavily moving towards SaaS model where long term development is enabled without re-inventing the wheel every time to force people to buy upgrades.

    Other assets that I feel are vulnerable to the problem here:

    BestHTTP: https://www.assetstore.unity3d.com/en/#!/content/10872
    Very fundamental asset that you must make sure does not vanish if you build long term product with Unity that depends on the asset.

    Cross Platform native Plugins:
    https://www.assetstore.unity3d.com/en/#!/content/31086
    Another fundamental asset that bridges native notification systems and purchases, can you imagine the dependency hell once they vanish yet your products are based on the plugin?

    Those 2 assets I have been using in products. And the developers are just phenomenal. Their products have removed for us to do development worth of thousands of euros. Yet we paid only few tens of euros. I feel very very uncomfortable to keep "exploiting" their work through out the years without paying more. The developers DESERVE be paid for the never ending exceptional support. Im afraid they saturate their market and run out of cashflow and they will end up inventing new "product" to replenish cashflow and old products die out. This should never happen, but just sheer business logic of asset store will eventually force this to happen when developers have accumulated hundreds of customers who demand bugfixes and updates but dont offer any new cashflow. (e.g. http://www.forentrepreneurs.com/recurring-revenue/)

    I know for 3D models and others it is not such a big deal. But all assets / plugins that do "plumming" behind the scenes that enable small indie teams deploy products. These assets are very important yet have very dramatic impact on the team work if they suddenly vanish from market.
     
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  7. Carve_Online

    Carve_Online

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    I agree, there is definitely a problem with assets that are necessary and of great value that suddenly disappear. I just am not sure a subscription model wouldn´t cause more problems than it cures. .

    You said " when developers have accumulated hundreds of customers who demand bugfixes and updates but dont offer any new cashflow.". I just think the additional cashflow is the ease at which those products make new sales based on their track record and current customer reviews. The HTTP plugin you mentioned has updates every few months and dozens of customer reviews and for that reason it is able to charge 3x´s what it´s competitors are charging and still have a steady flow of new customers.

    I am not trying to argue with you, but I already can see what will happen to the asset store if they allow subscriptions and really that depends on what type of subscription model you propose. Would the HTTP plug-in still be $60 plus $1 per month? and if someone stops subscribing, they can´t use it any longer, or they just don´t get the updates? It is easy to think a subscription model would fix the problem, but once you outline exactly how your subscription model would work, it would be easy to see how it would create more problems and exploits.
     
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  8. Cromfeli

    Cromfeli

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    If it was known beforehand when I buy asset that I will get support for the next 12 months, and then I would have to buy next year the asset gain, to be eligible for updates and support, I would be just happy with it. Now I just feel very very bad for the incredible work what these developers are doing and as individual I can not fix the problem I see, I cannot shell thousands of euros to the developers as I love their work, to make sure they have food for their family. But what I can do is try to help community to see the issue and make it more sustainable for long term projects to have dependencies to 3rd party plugins/assets.

    I really really love Unity and the community around it, specially asset store, just the synergy is so unpredecented in the world compared to 15 years ago.
     
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  9. Cromfeli

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    Again lost a good asset when developers saturated the number of customers and cannot sustain the updates and bugfixes anymore few years later from the money they got paid back the days. Just very very bad for the Unity ecosystem when this constantly happens. Very hard to build anything when asset store publishers abandon their old products even if the existing customer base would be happy to pay for the updates and support.
     
  10. Rtyper

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    I can see both sides of the argument. Personally (as an Asset Store dev), I do think something needs to be done to allow developers to get additional income over time. Right now, you're effectively expected to provide indefinite support - both in terms of updates & customer queries - all for a one-off purchase. Now some customers are really good about this; I've had customers offer to pay for implementing additional features etc, but some others (not to be mean, but particularly less experienced Unity users) can feel quite entitled to support even after paying a relatively small amount of money.

    Subscriptions could work, though I feel like it'd have to be okayed by Unity on a case-by-case basis to prevent abuse. The better solution, I think, would be built-in system for offering support contracts. Each Asset Store purchase could specifically come with X months of support for free, then further support could be purchased later. It would solve the uncertainty for customers of knowing how much support they're entitled to, it would hold asset developers to account for the support they provide, and provide an additional source of income to motivate us to continue working on assets.
     
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  11. theANMATOR2b

    theANMATOR2b

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    Then offer 5% of your own earnings each month/year to the asset providers that you take advantage of.
    Seriously - if you feel like you are exploiting their work - offer compensation to them if you feel they deserve to be paid more.
    By volunteering to provide compensation to the assets you use - you are doing what you feel is right, not imposing a system that would ultimately result in reduced sales to existing asset providers. This would result in reduced sales rather than increased sales for purchasers who have agreed to a one time purchase.
    Imposing a sub on assets would result in a drastic reduction in sales.

    Although I agree we want to support asset developers so the asset store stays robust and keeps package providers earning income for the quality work they preform with updates, I don't know of too many who mention they are loosing money or not earning any money by updating there packs.
    As new users are always signing up (downloading the engine) and searching through the asset store for quality products to help them develop games, do asset providers hit a point where their asset is totally saturated into the market and they are not gaining new users?
    If there is any asset that could be researched that might have total market saturation - I think it would be Playmaker. But Jean continues to update the pack and support the community by answering reoccurring questions in the forums, posting links to new packages with Playmaker support, and linking to new products using Playmaker.

    I think the best approach is not subscriptions - but enhancements to the assets (not just updates to the latest version of Unity) that provides such a improvement over the last version that the asset can be considered a new asset 2.0. And people who have purchased the 1.0 version can be given a discount of 50% off or something like that.
    Allowing the asset developers to create a 2.0 version of an asset (as long as this is not taken advantage of with lite updates) this system can provide asset developers with ongoing compensation to support continuous updates and enhancements to assets.
     
  12. ginconic

    ginconic

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    As an assetstore developer, but also a dev in a company that owns hundreds of paid assets, I shiver even thinking about it. If anything, it will make even more assetstore publishers plug their code into dlls.

    My take on the assetstore is every now and then you can buy a half-developed gem, put some more work into it and make it shine. I think that's the beauty of it.
     
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  13. Cromfeli

    Cromfeli

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    If I was in a position to hire all the plugin developers and pay them to do their work well I would just do that. But that is not realistic, I'm not in such position, my extra 50€ / year for a specific developer is not going to help them feed their family, but when there are few hundred clients who are and want to keep dependency to specific plugin it is already different story. They could afford to maintain their product.

    Only problem is the long term with asset store. I don't know if subscriptions are good approach for it. Maybe it is not the silver bullet. I just see the problem here, a serious problem for Unity as ecosystem. How that problem can be solved is different thing. "Never bring problem without bringing solution" I tried to bring mine.
     
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  14. theANMATOR2b

    theANMATOR2b

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    Yeah - I agree. I think 2.0 versioning can be a sustainable workable solution, although we may encounter packages not being updated with feature enhancements, but the provider requiring a 2.0 update purchase for just an update to the next version of Unity. I think most asset providers want to keep there packages updated so they stay relevant for the upcoming developers who also see a quality product and will purchase them.
    We are not all vets (I don't count in that group) who have been around for years collecting assets. Every day their are new developers joining the fold of the Unity team/community - and just like us they will see purchasing benefits in buying assets (priced so low to begin with) that can sustain quality products like BestHTTP through upgrade cycles.

    Until developers can affirm an asset is helping them make sustained earnings per month - they will not be willing to pay out of pocked a subscription for a package that is not helping them earn money with the creations they make.
    Developers who have seen success may (willingly of there own choice) provide additional compensation to those package providers who have aided them in the creation of games that have gone on to create sustained earnings.
    Kind of like Unity's business model -
     
  15. elbows

    elbows

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    I think its pretty easy for most or all of us to agree that there are issues with asset sustainability.

    I've called for something like subscriptions in the past, and I recognise there are flaws with this solution.

    Thinking about it more, I decided to dwell on the various reasons why some assets are not sustained. Sometimes it is money, but there are other reasons too. Change in life circumstances, sick of the amount and nature of the task of providing support, tired of how much updating can be required to keep up with changes in unity releases. And perhaps sometimes people get bored of their asset and struggle to find the motivation to continue it. Income can influence these things but sometimes no sensible amount of income is enough and some assets will still die because of this.

    Sometimes I wish that, in order to offer a solution to the problem no matter the cause, it would be nice if unity had a division that pro-actively came along and did deals to take ownership of certain assets that were otherwise about to be abandoned. Not very often, just with certain assets that have been extremely popular, are not on their way to natural obsolescence, and are complex & powerful enough/involve areas of unity that evolve all the time and require maintenance. Yes there are some issues with this 'solution' too, and obviously to date unity has not really gone near this area.

    Without Unity 'interfering' in this way, I suppose the market place does tend to function along the lines of where there is still demand, some other product will come along to fill the demand left by the previous assets departure from the market. I suppose the problem with this solution is that many of us recognise that our time is money, and would rather pay money periodically to keep alive the asset we've already invested time in learning & integrating with our projects & other assets, than have to start all over again.

    I cant say I'm that optimistic that the problem is fully solvable when I think back to events surrounding the demise of many of my favourite assets from the past. Public discussion on forums etc often recognises the signs of slow demise or reacts in shock to a sudden one, but its not that often that it seems like there are real opportunities to change the fate of the asset, often it just becomes clear the developer(s) are done with it, the end, bye.

    Given many of the assets that were cherished by me that have since 'died' were in the category of assets that inject themselves into the graphics rendering somewhere along the way, the whole Scriptable Render Pipeline stuff thats slowly coming alive during these first cycles of 2017 releases is on my radar as a period of some uncertainty - it's way too early to judge yet, this journey does not really start quite yet, but that also means I have to prepare myself to have no preset expectations about which assets I own and love now will thrive in the scriptable render pipeline era.

    Actually speaking of that I may as well admit that I have a 'romantic' dream about a whole bunch of talented asset store devs coming together and adding a ton of really cool stuff to the base render pipeline examples that unity will provide (eg HD pipeline), in one new branch. I'd love to subscribe to that, that would be worth money every month to me, but I know better than to expect it to happen.
     
  16. Cromfeli

    Cromfeli

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    Yeah I agree ,it is not easy problem to solve. Specially as there are assets that simply do not need any upgrades or warrant any kind of maintenance. It should be maybe somehow curated by Unity staff? Maybe this Element 11 thing was supposed to bring sustainable income to authors but it sounds like a communist scam in terms of solving any problems.
     
  17. magique

    magique

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    No, a subscription model is a really bad idea. There are better ways to improve your profitability. If an asset is really great and fills a need then it's going to continue to do that year after year as long as it's maintained for both new Unity version compatibility and upgraded features to keep the product attractive. If it's a niche product that doesn't really fill the needs of most users then it's probably not something you should be releasing for mass market consumption anyway.

    And you can always do three things to get more income:

    One, release a much improved and more up to date version 2.0 that is a significant upgrade from the previous version. You can charge a little more and you can provide upgrade pricing for existing users of version 1.0.

    Two, take a modular approach and create a base or core module and provide add-ons that enhance the functionality of the product.

    Three, create more assets to sell that fill the needs of a wide range of users. Not only will you hook new users, but you'll probably be able to get your loyal existing customers to buy them as well.

    A subscription model is going to turn off most buyers. Just look at Apex's disaster with Apex Utility AI. They tried to enforce a subscription model outside the store and it went very badly. They ultimately got rid of that, but it really damaged their reputation.
     
  18. Carve_Online

    Carve_Online

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    There are a lot of good developers who simply sunset products and offer a new version every year or so. Too lazy to look, but there is a guy that does an awesome foliage shader who does this. At some point in time, he simply stopped ´supporting´ version 3 and created a completely new product that is version 4. His version 3 was awesome and had a long shelf life, so the people that were happy with the product and the support he gave for it had no problem buying version 4. I think he then made version 3 free with the caveat that it might not work on newer versions of Unity. The developers also now have the ability to offer an upgrade price. So the guys who bought version 3, might get a discount when they buy version 4. If you want one of these guys to make more money on their updates, why not recommend that they release a completely new product.

    But other than that, I think you are discounting the intelligence of these guys. They know their product and they know how likely it is to require updates along the way and that should be factored into their initial sales price.
     
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  19. Cromfeli

    Cromfeli

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    Can you explain me how exactly this logic works? Maybe I misunderstand something obvious about saturating the market and having no recurrent revenue. I would be happy to learn how this works. Unity could not work this way, so I would be very happy to understand the business logic behind your reasoning. If it did not work for Microsoft, Unity and thousands of other companies. I would really like to learn how the model you describe works for asset store publishers.

    OH! I see... o_O

    And how does partitioning YOUR product increase your customer base for your product? I dont see how eating your own cake in smaller pieces increases the cake. You get few limited edition users yet you end up with same issue of saturating market.

    Yes, every asset store developer, specially if single guy, can split their attention between multiple products AND keep supporting multiple products AND have very succesfull multiple products. What you are describing is abandonware what is BIG plague of the asset store due to market saturation without recurring revenue.

    Sorry mate, there has to be something sustainable...

    So, they saturated the market, had 10000 customers to support without extra money, they tried to solve the problem with external system and ramming it down the users throat? Exactly what I earlier described is MY problem also. Specially if access to product was limited. You are barking at the wrong direction if you blame subscription model Im afraid.
     
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  20. magique

    magique

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    @Cromfeli Sorry that you are so bitter about this, but I'm an asset store buyer, not an asset store seller and I'm just giving you my honest opinion. I would not buy from someone who had a subscription model. And I've heard countless others express the same views. So if you want your consumers to buy your product, instituting a subscription model is probably not going to be the way to go. Unless you're content with a tiny user base that sustains your income and you drive away the rest of your potential customers. If Unity allows a subscription model, but doesn't force authors to use it then there will always be some other vendor selling a comparable product without a subscription model and will beat you out. If Unity's mass market doesn't appeal to you then go into private contracting and write code for exclusive use and charge hourly rates for your time.
     
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  21. LaneFox

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    I think it's really sketchy.

    Part of the security of buying an asset is that you get it now and you get what you see. With a subscription system it's a lot riskier and is unlikely to satisfy the customer over time and really doesn't offer the customer anything that the current store isn't already giving them so right out of the gate the customers are negatively affected. Not only that but there would be so much red tape with this sort of thing, huge amounts of backend updates, management, legal considerations, overhauling and microtransaction costs. The asset publisher page is barely useful as-is and a big change like this is a multi-year feature to support.

    I do acknowledge there is some kind of issue with the perceived model. IMO the 'free upgrades for life' idea behind asset publishing is a bad one. The only way to generate revenue is to update/patch your product and hope for more new users. This is extremely uncommon when you look at the size of the store and how many assets are successfully sustained this way - at least this is the case for Scripting type assets. Even then a lot of popular assets just do regular upgrades as separate products after a period of time in order to at least generate some revenue from their existing customer base.
     
  22. Cromfeli

    Cromfeli

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    I'm asset store buyer also, not selling anything there. I'm highly worried about buying assets that developers abandon just because they cannot feed their children from the work they are expected to do. I would like to have possibility to buy some kind of annual support subscription or something that enables me to request support from the author 3 years from now. As it is today, asset store is not sustainable mode to cooperate with 3rd parties. Only reasonable safety is to force developers release all their source code to mitigate the risk they disappear from the market and you end up with abandon-ware.

    This is perfectly acceptable. This is where market decides. Not me, not you, market decides whos asset get revenue. Im 100% supporting such model where the end customers can select from the alternatives. I personally would select good asset where I can secure continuity of support. You could select the other developer. This would be perfect in my opinion.
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2017
  23. Cromfeli

    Cromfeli

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    Agree. I do acknolwedge that subscriptions are not suitable for all asset store products. yet the problem is real.
     
  24. coverpage

    coverpage

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    My solution would be:
    1. Implement a tip mechanism. Allowing user to tip 1 dollars 5 dollars or 10 dollars.
    2. Place the button next to the download button in our Asset list.
    3. Next to the download button, add a "number of times downloaded" text to show how many times we have downloaded and used the asset and "tip this month" text next to it to show how much we tip this month (wage cycle are typically monthly)
    4. In the unity forum, allow a mechanism for user to tip and show the asset creator that they have tipped inside the post. This will create a culture of tipping after being given support.
    A tipping culture for service will be inculcated in the long run.
     
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  25. magique

    magique

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    OK, I see what you're saying here, but I still see a major problem. How does Unity enforce authors supporting their product? Just because they are now getting a constant revenue stream, does that mean they will be forced to provide the level of support you expect? You would think so, but if these same developers have never provided good support and have abandoned their products then what makes you think they'll change? I mean, there are other authors without that steady stream who continue to support their products day in and day out year after year.

    I don't know what the answer is. Maybe it'll work for some assets and for some people. I'd just really hate to see products that I've bought require a subscription to use them when I already own the rights to use them now. Maybe the answer is that you pay for a support contract like big name software companies do and you get priority support or something like that. Then again, how does that work with the one man software shop?
     
  26. Voxel-Busters

    Voxel-Busters

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    Thanks @Cromfeli for finding out the problem a lot earlier.

    Sometime back i saw this post but couldn't get the exact intention what you are focusing on. But we are now in a position to understand what exactly you mean.

    Recurring revenue model is the best for supporting any product in the long term. This is a constant problem as definitely there will be a saturation at somepoint and it will be reached soon in the future.

    I totally agree with you as a asset store publisher. But from a buyer perspective i'm not sure everyone will have a consideration like you.

    Consider while a product is being purchased, we see lot of factors before going for it. We like to have long term commitment and want it to be constantly updated as well. But on the other side supporting a product for years without any significant revenue for the product is also a tough job.

    Now the problem is who can explain it to the buyer clearly?

    We feel it would be great if Unity gives us their valuable feedback about this problem.
    I would request @JustinCollins for his valuable inputs.
     
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  27. Cromfeli

    Cromfeli

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    Thanks VoxelBusters for bringing asset store developer point of view to this. Much appreciated.

    @JustinCollins have you been able to review this problem? It would be really great for the whole ecosystem to support some form of recurring revenue for the asset store developers also.
     
  28. LaneFox

    LaneFox

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    So if a user were to buy a subscription to a product then here are some practical questions.
    • Do only subscribers get the update?
    • If non-subscribers get the update, then why subscribe?
    • What guarantee is there that the publisher with actually create updates?
    • What if the product is already good and requires no update, will subscribers be content with that?
    • If so, what would the reason be to subscribe, and what would the reason be to update it?
    • How is the asset store expected to enforce this in any way, considering these questions?
     
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  29. Cromfeli

    Cromfeli

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    1.)
    Out of my sleeve it maybe could be 12 months grace period when by sheer purchase you get updates. Then next time 12 months after you would need to re-purchase (Next billing really for the subscription at lower price) if you still felt that you need the plugin and you need the original author to support it (By that time you already know if they have been actively supporting so you have certianty.)

    2.)
    See above, 12 months could be reasonable period from purchase (Cant expect someone to work forever for "free"?)

    3.)
    Market is maybe good mechanism in itself to handle this. If no updates, people leave bad reviews and after 12 months you see this is garbage author. Maybe could work.

    4.)
    Then life is perfect and you are fine with just purchase.

    5.)
    Personally I would still subscribe as I run business also and I know that expecting someone work for free forever is not good idea for my business also. Results may vary. its like Steve Jobs iTunes story. People do not really want to pirate, just give them alternative that does the job as well and they do what is best for everyone.

    6.)
    Maybe optional model? Again, market is in this case best to let decide if it fly or not.
     
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  30. Deeeds

    Deeeds

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    If Apple can offer subscriptions, through their asset store, for all manner of services, apps, content and facilities, I think Unity can figure it out.

    And, yes. Subscriptions are the best model for selling software as a service, which most plugins are, in one form or another, in this digital age.

    But, subscriptions are not 1 year contracts to pay monthly. They are the ability to start and stop payment freely, anytime. As per the Adobe model. Any other form of subscription is hurting the consumer, deliberately, by tricking them into contractual, term based payments.

    Apple Music is the ultimate example. Just follow this model and make it available to Unity Asset Sellers. Please.

    Also, from Apple, reduce the Unity commission in the second and third years of consecutive subscription to an asset. Build in incentive for Unity Asset makers to make their assets worthy of long term commitments, above and beyond the outright subscription income, to an incentivised, larger slice of the income.

    Logic.all
     
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  31. Flipbookee

    Flipbookee

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    I see quite a lot of posts here from people who don’t understand what subscription means - it’s a payment for the right of using some software for limited time only, as opposed to buying that righti once and forever. Therefore, questioning whether there will be updates or not during that month or at any time in the future is irrelevant! The software works now and that’s what the user pay for. If it gets abandoned next month with new version of Unity, simply stop paying the subscription and keep the last working version for free and forever.

    Another misconception here is that introduction of the subscription model would automatically cancel the current model! No, both models can exist even for the same single asset, so Asset Store users have more choices - buy it once and forever, or go with subscription and get a chance to try it for cheap before you decide whether to buy it forever. Now, some publishers may not want to offer both models, but then the market will judge and tell them whether their decision was right or wrong.

    Another important point not taken into account by those who are against the subscription model is that many users start using Unity without a firm plan to continue doing that for many, many years, therefore investment in an expensive asset for a lifetime license is not something they would easily commit to. Even if they started using Unity to only complete their current project, it’s unlikely that that project is going to last for more than a year. Having the option to buy a limited time license and pay half the price of the asset over a course of a full year will make their lives easier and let the publishers earn the money they wouldn’t earn otherwise.

    I read all the comments above and I can't find even a single argument to not allow the subscription model, especially if offering both models is mandatory for publishers who would like to offer the subscription model. Even without such restriction, the subscription model may be preferred by some users, so why would the Asset Store prevent them to spend their own money the way they want?
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2018
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  32. Flipbookee

    Flipbookee

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    I have to also tell you about the reasons for abandonment of assets, either popular or not. For some reason, there is an opinion that Asset Store publishers can support their families with that work. That's absolutely wrong, except for only a very small number of publishers. All other publishers have to earn for living by holding a full time job - there's no other choice for them.

    Now see, many talented individuals decide to enter the Asset Store market with the idea to secure enough income and become their own bosses. They invest their time in creating something useful, put that on market, and boom - they have to realize the truth - with only a couple of sales per month they'll get some minimal income that they can use as pocket money only. Some of them would think "hey, I just started, I can't expect to become profitable immediately" and they may keep supporting, improving and updating their assets for months or even years, which will eventually pay off by getting to an income of let's say $500 per month if the product is really good. Now that may be enough for some places in the world, just most of the good developers don't live there! They were either born and still live in a developed country where they had access to good education and resources to invest in developing their skills, or they were born in a poor country but moved to a developed country where they can work as highly skilled workers and earn 10 times more than in their home country,.. And life there is not cheap, so those $500 will never be enough to support their families.

    It sometimes takes less and sometimes it takes longer for new publishers to realize that. That's the main reason for abandoning their products, regardless how awesome they may have been.

    And there's IMO another reason for abandonment, especially by publishers who have revealed their identity in public or put their Asset Store achievements in their CV - an irresistible job offer by an employer who demands them to discontinue their asset publishing activities, either because Unity is their direct or indirect competitor on the market, or because the employer fears the risk their new employees will be more focused to its own products than the work they'll have to do for them.
     
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  33. magique

    magique

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    No, no, and no. Absolutely not.
     
  34. Flipbookee

    Flipbookee

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    Why? Wouldn't you like to be able to try an expensive asset for a month for some very cheap price and see how you like it before deciding whether to buy its lifetime license?

    Edit: Well, I guess I didn't understand what you mean, sorry! Subscription may be not always the best model for all the software, but only for some kinds.
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2018
  35. magique

    magique

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    No, I'd rather they provide a demo version for free that has restrictions or time locked. When I buy I don't want to make another payment ever. If they release a major upgrade and charge an upgrade fee then I will happily pay if I want the additional features.
     
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  36. Flipbookee

    Flipbookee

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    Okay, I see. I respect people’s right to decide how, when, and how much they want to pay for someone else’s work, and I expect others to respect my right to decide how, when, and how much I charge for my work. Forcing one or the other side to do this or that is absolutely not right. Both sides should have the choice to do what they believe is best for their families.

    Because, imagine if governments had put such restrictions on software companies - some of them would have closed by now, abandoning their products no matter how useful they were. There would be no M$ Office, no Visual Studio, even no Unity anymore, or at least not developed as much as it is now. Would that make you happier?
     
  37. Deeeds

    Deeeds

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    Nothing about subscription model pricing and this is mutually exclusive.

    There's zero preventing suppliers from providing a model price, a subscription price, a trial price and an "all-in" price for lifetime support and upgrades.

    Except for one thing... Unity haven't provided the infrastructure for subscriptions, despite relying on a version of them, themselves.
     
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  38. DragonsanStudios

    DragonsanStudios

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    We totally agree that subscription model is a must at asset store. The truth is that the more complex product you have, the more time and effort you will have to put in the support, so the less time you will have to improve it, while support should be continuing infinitely in terms of Unity present model. So you can afford to do that if the product is simple or if it's not based on scripts or shaders as they will break most often. So if you have audio or models, or animations, then support is almost not existent, but if your package is based on scripts or shaders then you are in big trouble unless you will put paid updates on the Asset Store periodically, which will have similar effect as subscription model, still close enough but on the other hand not enough, so we are adding our opinion here to also let Unity Asset Store staff know that it's important element. It's simple business element, they also changed one-time payment to the subscription model for their licenses, since then they doubled the number of their employees.
    There is always a trade-off between price and quality of the product. Over last few years, we paid for many packages which were set to obsolete after few months, so there is no such solution which would keep clients 100% safe that the package which they will purchase will be developed, especially if behind the package is one person, so there is a huge risk. Even broken leg or arm of the publisher can cause him to not work as he would like to and can cause the package to be set as an obsolete.
     
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  39. Deeeds

    Deeeds

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    Early Access and Subscription Pricing Are Essential For Asset Makers!
    This is the ideal space for subscription pricing. And all the wonders of early access style Steam pricing options, too. If something is worthy of investment and the time and passion of a developer, there should be ways for the community to help him/her get to the goal. We've all seen how this works. It's not rocket science.

    Asset Makers Are Essential to the Asset Store's Attractiveness & Use.

    Pay once, own it, is fair for something that doesn't ever evolve during an expected period of ownership and has market size and momentum sufficient for production level investment. And products never ever in need of servicing, updates, extensions, additions, maintenance, customisation, compatibility testing or any of the other idiosyncrasies of software ownership, installation, functionality and operational support.

    The Asset Store's Viability is Integral to Unity's Continued Appeal to Subscribers.
    Software is a relatively new class of product. Asset Store Plugins and Software Extensions etc, all need maintenance just to keep pace with whatever Unity does to the base facility. And the producers are subject to the whims and capability of Unity to grow its market share. The Asset Store's Asset Maker's ability to ease and hasten development is one of its key assets.

    I'd have thought.

    Could be wrong.
     
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  40. magique

    magique

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    Unity is a business and they absolutely have the right to decide how their store works. And when a publisher signs up for it they know exactly what they are signing up for. If a publisher doesn't like the model then they shouldn't publish using that model. I can totally understand and respect that some publishers want another model added on. I'm just saying that I would not buy such products and I am sure many others wouldn't also. So, do you want to sell your product to lots of people or do you want to have a few customers sustaining it? Just remember the debacle that happened with the Apex AI system that tried to enforce an off store subscription model. It was disastrous.
     
  41. Flipbookee

    Flipbookee

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    I really have no idea what happened to Apex AI, but that’s irrelevant. It’s a single example and outside of Asset Store, so I don’t see why would that matter for other products and within the Asset Store, especially if both models are offered to users, of course, for a different price.

    I think you don’t see the advantage of subscriptions. Imagine you pay a full price in current model for a workflow utility (not something that gets shipped with you game) and then a few months later it gets abandoned or a new similar but better assets gets released. You’ll have to pay the same price or even more for that other plugin, now owning both assets but using only one, while you could have paid a tiny amount in monthly installments for the first one, the swap those payments for the other better asset. So this proposal is not something that would benefit one side, but both, or even all three sides if you take into account that Unity earns from that too, not only with their cut of 30% but also by making the Asset Store and consequently the engine useful to more people, such as those who are not able to pay the full price at once for all the assets they need.

    For one I’m sure, I wouldn’t become paying user of Unity if they didn’t introduce the subscription model! There’s no way I could fork out $1000 or even $500 at once for that, while paying $35 per month is not a huge amount, as I don’t get paid once a year but once per month.
     
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  42. Deeeds

    Deeeds

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    How many more Unity licenses do you think are sold because they moved to a subscription model?

    How about Adobe's Subscription model's ENORMOUS success sand boost of Adobe's revenue and profitability?

    What about smart phones? -- most of which are sold on service contracts with the cost of phone included.

    How about car finance that's then become "leasing" and now being offered as a subscription service (Cadillac etc)

    What about Dollar Shave Club?

    And, to go back to one of my earlier points... one of the fastest growing "sales" vehicles for "software" is music subscription services, like Spotify and Apple Music.

    Then there's the phenomenal, near astronomical success and influence of Netflix to consider.

    I'm afraid you're on the wrong side of history if you want to support outright purchases as the best (or even sole) business model for just about anything, anymore. Food? Most buy this on credit cards, too.
     
  43. magique

    magique

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    I have Adobe's Creative Cloud subscription and I really despise the fact that I have to pay monthly fees for it, but I don't really have a choice. The cost of the individual products has always been way higher than it should be.

    I also despise the smart phone model. My entire family phone bill used to be about $35 a month until cell phones and data plans came along. Now we pay ridiculous $150+ bills every month.

    I don't like leasing either.

    What in the world is Dollar Shave Club? lol

    I also despise Spotify and Apple Music. I would never subscribe to them that's for sure.

    Netflix, I do like, but that's not software per se. It's movie and TV content that is constantly being added to and expanded. A whole different ball game and not the same thing. I actually dumped Netflix though and just have Hulu. But same concept.
     
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  44. MrIconic

    MrIconic

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    I thought it was known that the pricing didn't work with (at least) Unity's old way of updating. Might be better with LTS versions but I still wish asset devs could sustain themselves better for what they offer the community as a collective.
     
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  45. DragonsanStudios

    DragonsanStudios

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    I agree with @Flipbookee. All sides could be a win. Look at water assets, there was Triton 500 USD obsolete, ceto, around 100 obsolete, play way 100 obsolete, so many assets were abandoned that you will never know if you will be able to use it after 6 months or not. Of course, subscription model doesn't guarantee you that either (but motivating publisher to service and support his package because of stable income). But subscription can be treated in many different ways, it can be sub, one-time payment or mixed, like one-time payment and then sub as a access to updates, and it's up to each client if he wants updates or not.
    As I said, a rule is basically one, the more complex software or package you have, the more support you will have to offer, because of Unity changes over versions and because sometimes there are so many use cases that you are not capable to run all tests. the most fragile at the moment are Shaders (mentioned water solutions are a good example) and scripts (any editor extensions or handy plugins).

    There is always a boundary between the price for the package and quality. The less client will pay, the less author will get and if he calculated it wrong and for a start it's ok, but later on, when the market will be flooded by his product, he won't have so many sales anymore, then what, the road is one...straight to obsolete. It can be caused by wrong calculation or just evolved package which at the start just required less support and over time it just changed.
    In my opinion Asset Store in present shape never won't be place with properly supported packages (complex packages), unless the company or author will work 16x7 to cover his daily job and then Asset Store cases, so there is no way that some hobbyist could say, ok, I have an idea, I know how to do that, I can do that, I can do something for rest of the community, I'll do that and it should generate me proper income, that won't happen... like never in present Asset Store shape. And on the other side of that puzzle are we, clients where we have more and more obsolete packages in our bucket, or some of the packages are not obsolete but there is no support at all, which is again against Unity Asset Store policy, but it doesn't matter :)
     
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  46. Deeeds

    Deeeds

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    I'm with you. I have some money. I like to use that to buy things I can afford, often at a deep discount because I can afford to buy them with cash.

    I love bargain shopping.

    HOWEVER:

    1. the world is moving towards cashless and subscriptions and as-a-service for just about everything
    2. software creators and maintainers need this kind of regular income more than other producers

    3. It's a digital domain - there's nothing preventing subscriptions being created as a store mechanism
    4. Everyone stands to gain from subscriptions, even you and I, we can still buy/pay for lifetime assets

    And this is how it works in all the above examples.

    You can still buy a phone outright, and go on a prepaid plan, or postpay without a purchase plan
    You can still buy DVDs or digital versions of movies, and music, too.
    You can still buy a car, carrots and pizza with cash, gold or bitcoin.

    etc etc...

    Despite our personal reservations about the merits (for ourselves), the benefits of subscription pricing for digital creators is such that we'll benefit from their increased engagement with their wonderful products, the assets we buy.

    The exception might be Adobe. They are just scum.
     
  47. magique

    magique

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    I don't think you understand. It's perfectly fine if publishers want a subscription model and it's perfectly fine if Unity provides one. But no matter what direction the world is going in and no matter whether publishers start going the subscription route, I will not buy their products. You can try to convince me until the day of judgment, but I will not suddenly like the idea and embrace it. So, if publishers care about what their customers want then they should consider what we are saying. I'm not the only one.
     
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  48. Deeeds

    Deeeds

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    I think they get that. I think everyone does. The biggest protest against this was up against Adobe. They didn't care, didn't even hear it. The noise of all those monthly subscriptions hitting their bank accounts was too loud.
     
  49. cdr9042

    cdr9042

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    I agree with you. People are used to buying an item with a flat price and expect it to work forever. But in software development, it isn't like that. Over time, the product doesn't work any more because the environment has changed. So the software developer updates it, but at what price? The old customers who bought it get the update for free. For 1 year, for 5 years, forever...

    At the beginning when not many people has purchased the software, the developer may still have revenue from new customers. But after all the potential customers have bought it and no one new come to sponsor the developer to continue putting time into maintaining it, the dev might drop the project and no more updates will ever come.

    IDM has subscription, Malwarebyte has subscription, Github has subscription. If all these software corp has subscription, I don't see why indie developers can't have it
     
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  50. Jeremy-Borton

    Jeremy-Borton

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    I can see the problems with a subscription model though it sounds nice at first.
    Perhaps if I sold a major asset, either I could sell it for free on a donation basis with a link to patreon of a suggested supporter amount of $30/m (I doubt unity would allow this though... let me know though), or I'd sell it for mucha money of like $1500 for 5 years of support and product development or maybe I could sell it for $300 dollars with built in advertisements to maintain the support for it. I mean Houdini is like $3000 so in comparison it's not all that crazy to charge $1500 for a major product. Even at these prices, without a major amount of people buying the product, it'd be hard to develop something at $25 per hour for 14 hours a week for a few years ($18,200/yr $54,600/ 3 yrs) just to create the initial product that by chance someone else hasn't already made better. It's hard for developers now that I'm thinking about it. At $300 if 10 people bought it, that'd be a whopping $3000 to cover $54,600 of initial development costs. If 200 people bought it that'd be $60,000, and you'd barely have made anything. I don't know of too many $300 products on the asset store that over a two hundred people have purchased. You'd have to be passionate and not in it for the money in order to develop something for the community. I guess I'm that kind of guy... lol
     
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